CSotD: Dys, not mis, information

I’m going to start the day by taking Lalo Alcaraz (AMS) to task, though only on a linguistic point.

“Misinformation” and “dysinformation” are separate things entirely. Misinformation is an innocent mistake. Dysinformation is purposeful, both in the sense of “deliberate” and in the sense of having a goal.

Which is a good time to fly my Irish flag once more in salute of The Liberator, who had no tolerance for liars and seáníns.

A simple error: Alcaraz is not so naive as to believe that the false facts spread by rightwing media are inadvertent.


I like Stuart Carlson (AMS)’s take on the flood of books in which Trump insiders spill their guts, either through leaking to other authors or directly, with Kellyanne Conway’s upcoming memoir apparently upsetting the loyalists most at the moment.

Note that Carlson doesn’t say “don’t read them.” He just points out that you probably shouldn’t be all that surprised by anything in them. Trump himself liked to recite the poem about a snake which, once sheltered in a woman’s bosom, bites her, killing her, and saying, “You knew I was a snake when you took me in.”

Which we did. Or should have.

Carlson suggests that the details are more depressing than we thought, and I’d agree, mostly by going back to the point made the other day of the difference between intentional and unintentional evil. Finding out that it was all intentional is both comforting and depressing at once, given that it allows us to confirm our suspicions but, then again, confirms how much trouble we’re still in.

“They knew all along” is kind of a bummer. A bigger bummer is that the people who most need to hear this will not, and, to the extent that they stumble onto it, will call it dysinformation.


Andy Marlette (Creators) has a bit of fun at the expense of the liars who whip up imaginary crises while ignoring the real ones, and one important thing we should remember about the few editorial cartoonists still employed by newspapers is that, while Trump supporters won’t visit the online places Marlette can be found, this cartoon will appear on breakfast tables in Pensacola.

And I believe mockery is more powerful in such times than attempting rational debate with irrational people.

Similarly, Steve Sack‘s commentary on the current King of Dysinformation will be found in the pages of the Star-Tribune, in both Minneapolis and across the river in St. Paul.

As Jefferson famously said of the importance of newspapers

(W)ere it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them. 

That latter assumed that distribution and literacy were the chief barriers to having well-informed voters, which may be why conservatives seek to regulate both social media and what is taught in classrooms.

In any case, it’s puzzling that Trump’s bluecollar followers put such faith in a smug, smarmy prep-school wiseass, though I suppose the fact that they voted one into office should remove some of that shock.

The lies this hypocrite spreads may actually kill people who believe him, but it won’t matter to the survivors.

These days, the answer to “Have you no sense of decency?” is “When was the last time you had sex with your wife and in what position?”

In “Animal Farm,” the victims were being misled by dishonest, self-serving pigs.

We had assumed it was a metaphor.


Meanwhile, over on the funny pages, we find a story arc on Sherman’s Lagoon (KFS) turning from the whimsy with which it began into an echo of Eugene Ionesco’s Rhinoceros, in which the people in a small town gradually transform into rhinoceroses, an absurdist depiction based on Ionesco’s experience in his native Romania in the 1930s:

The play itself is overlong and almost never produced without significant cuts, but a 1974 attempt to make it into a movie failed to capture the fear and dread behind the absurdist premise, despite — or perhaps because of — the presence of Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. The premise is silly, but must be presented as chilling.

Which it is, when it’s really happening.


I’m unsure where the current arc in Edison Lee (KFS) — which began with Edison and his grandfather being towed out to sea by dolphins — is going, but today’s episode fits nicely with Sherman’s Lagoon in suggesting a much more optimistic and pleasant movie, 1966’s The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming, a heart-warming declaration that we’re all human, after all.

It’s a wonderful combination of suspense, fear and hilarity, and I’ll add that my personal encounters with Russians and other soviet citizens were a lot of fun, though always spiced with a sense of their having grown up in a far different world than mine, and not simply because of our forms of government.

“We’re all human” is a righteous and moral message. “We’re all alike” is apt to run you aground, both abroad and at home.

Meanwhile, take note of the bare-chested flexer on that submarine. We’ll see where this goes.

And as long as we’re addressing serious issues in the funny pages, here’s our


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Macanudo – KFS)

(Rhymes with Orange – KFS)

Macanudo reminds me of when Bill Watterson would start off a Sunday Calvin and Hobbes with comic realism and descend to cartoony bathos in the final panel, but this time, the humorous aspect is offered in a righteous cause.

The major example of imperialist theft is the Elgin Marbles, taken from Greece by a British adventurer who claimed permission from the Ottoman government against whom the Greeks were rebelling. As noted in Wikipedia, UNESCO has attempted to persuade the British Museum to honor the Greek request for return, but the museum explained “F*** you.”

Or words to that effect.

RWO offers a more moderate perspective, and I’d accept pilferage of garbage dumps as fair game, bearing in mind that people do not bury their loved ones in garbage dumps.

And bearing in mind that mockery of the conqueror’s remains is fair game.


5 thoughts on “CSotD: Dys, not mis, information

  1. There’s a gallery of some sort in Savannah that has two main things: Drawings by Kahlil Gibran, and a quarter-sized reproduction of the Elgin Marbles that you can get fairly close to.

    When I started going to art museums in the 70s, I was struck by how many Buddha heads and hands were in the clutches of Anglo-saxon museums. I pictured boat after boat arriving in India, and hordes of solar-wearing barbarians with hammers and chisels fanning out to raid the temples.

  2. Of course, if France were to return Napoleon’s plunder to the countries it came from, the Louvre would be pretty empty.

  3. My favorite episode of “North of 60” — set in a Dine community in northern Canada — involved the discovery in the woods of the body of a hunter from the city who had died of a heart attack several years earlier.

    His widow flew up to reclaim it, but it had disappeared. The former band chief (and villain of the show) explained that his grandfather’s bones were in a museum in Edmonton but that he was willing to swap.

    Which made him less of a villain and much more of an interesting character.

  4. …and on that tangent, I love ‘North off 60’ and still check a couple fan pages to see if the show and subsequent movies will EVER be released on DVD or streaming services or somehow made available to the world. (8mm films delivered on the backs of small Canadian squirrels would be OK). I think the show probably holds up pretty well since it did such a good job of addressing universal issues. And speaking of high quality, CSOTD has set a remarkably high standard of commentary and you have consistently maintained it for lo these many years. Thank you and here’s to many more columns and many more years.

  5. Tony Hillerman wrote of just such a proposed swap of remains in “Talking God.”

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